Like any other person offering a product or service, doctors can be sued if their care is below the appropriate standard, especially when related to surgery. Medical malpractice is an area of personal injury law that has some specific legal hurdles to overcome before compensation may become available to you, but it is most certainly possible to hold a doctor liable for harm done to you or your loved one.
Prevalence of Surgical Errors
The slightly sobering reality is that more surgical errors happen in the United States each year than most people believe. Research from Johns Hopkins University shows that on average, more than 4,000 of what medical professionals call “never events” occur each year. Never events are defined as medical professionals who are performing the wrong procedure, performing the right procedure on the wrong site, or leaving an object in the body cavity – events that should ‘never’ happen, in other words.
The same study cited approximately 9,750 malpractice claims as occurring between 1990 and 2010, indicating that many of the surgeons who cause these ‘never events’ are never held accountable. Approximately 80,000 never events in that 20-year period ought to have yielded significantly more malpractice claims, but never did. If you are harmed by a surgeon’s lack of care, you have a right to attempt to obtain recovery for your injuries.
South Carolina Requirements
If you believe you have a case for surgical malpractice, you must be able to show that the doctor or medical professional’s conduct fell below the prevailing standard of care. A doctor, by law, has a duty to their patients, and a breach of that duty, coupled with a showing of harm that was directly caused by the doctor’s conduct, will generally establish medical malpractice. This also encompasses conduct (or lack thereof) having to do with pre-operative and post-operative care; surgery does not only encompass the procedure itself. That said, there are two laws that any potential plaintiff needs to be aware of before filing suit.
The first is that South Carolina requires a plaintiff to file a Notice of Intent to File Suit before the civil action may actually be brought. It must be filed in a county where the civil action could take place, and it must include the relevant information and names, as well as any interrogatories (written questions) for the opposing side to respond to as part of discovery. The second ties into the first – the statute of limitations on filing a medical malpractice action in South Carolina is three years from the date of the injury, or from when the injury ought to have been discovered. Submitting a Notice of Intent to File Suit tolls all applicable statutes, so it is extremely important to be certain of your choice to sue before actually filing the Notice.
A Knowledgeable Medical Malpractice Lawyer Can Help
Medical malpractice is a field where many may easily find themselves out of their league. Having the services of an experienced medical malpractice attorney can make the difference. The dedicated North Charleston medical malpractice attorneys at Callihan & Syracuse are happy to help you through. Contact our office today to set up a free initial appointment.